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Fes – Reminiscing The Past

Posted on November 12, 2009 | Fascinating CitiesNo Comment



Fes is a Muslim city in the North of Morocco, and while it has adapted well to tourist from all over the world, it hasn’t lost touch with its inherent Islamic values.

Mosques are restricted for Muslims only. While all tourists are welcome to come here, they should dress up modestly, just as token of respect to the culture of this city.

Wandering on the streets in Medina or the market of Fes takes you back by centuries. The décor, the architecture, the buildings and royal palaces, the magnificent gardens, all reflect the influence of civilizations from the Greeks to Romans to Byzantine to Arab that have invaded the North African country of Morocco and left behind their legacies to be treasured by generations to come.

There are a number of cultural centers offering lectures, exhibitions and films such as the Institut Francais.  Foreign films are screened in few cinemas in the modern city of Ville Nouvelle as well as Cinema Boujeloud in Fes el Bali, though they are dubbed into French.

To hear the local music, all you have to do is get to some good hotel. They are out and loud on streets though, during festivals and also after the Ramadan fast is broken.

Apart from this, you could check out with the tourist office that has details of cultural events and also has tickets to them that you could buy from here itself.

Architecture

Some of the masterpieces of architecture inhabit this medieval city. The medina with the towns of Fes el Bali and Fes el-Jdedid have in fes architecturetheir narrow streets and alleys fine examples of Hispano-Arabic architecture. A magnificent and perhaps best example of Islamic architecture is the Bou Inania Medersa.This has wooden walls with elaborate geometric carvings and Arabic calligraphy and a minaret as well.

The other madarsas and the mosques, apart from being religious places restricted for Muslims, are examples of fine architecture with ornate décor. They are worth a watch even though from outside.

The old Fes -I-Bali and the new Fes-I-Jdid, both have regal palaces that are simply magnificent.

Arts and Crafts

The shop stalls in Medina as well as the museums here showcase the rich tradition of Moroccan art and crafts. The carpenters and craftsmen are at work here at the Medina streets as well as around Nejjarine Fountain of the Fondouk el Nejjarine Museum.  In fact, the two of main museums here the Nejjarine Museum and the Fondouk el nejjarine are dedicated to displays of traditional woodwork and crafts.

Cuisine

While there a number of international hotels and restaurants serving cuisine that cater to the needs of the international tourists, Moroccan cuisine has a niche for itself here and all over the world. One of the trademark dishes of Morocco is fes Cuisinethe Couscous or seksu as it is known in Morocco. It is a traditional dish of Berber and is usually made of seven vegetables.

Another popular Moroccan dish is Pastilla (also called bisteeya or basteela in Morocco). This is an Andalusian dish brought to this North African country by the Moors from Spain, when they were chased out of Southern Spain in the 15th century. It is supposed to have been perfected in Fez and since it takes a lot of time to prepare, it is a must in menus during special occasions like weddings etc.

Interesting to note is that among the plenty of festivals Fes has, the months of April and May in fact bring to the city the Culinary Arts Festivals.

Festivals and special events

Fes is host to a number of festivals and celebrations.

The months of April and May are time for The Culinary Arts festivals.

The prominent festival of Morocco, the Annual Festival of World Sacred Music, comes to Fes for 10 days by the end of May to early June. Performers and tourists from all over the world come in for this festival. Musicians here perform all kind of music from religious to European classic to Sufi music. In addition are African classical guitar, Japanese drumming and the American gospel. The fest takes place across the city and you could also visit some concerts for free.

With the cherry harvest in June comes the Cherry Festival in Berber town, south east of Fes. It has music, folklore and even sports.

In July, The National Festival of Amazigh Culture is for the celebration of Berber Culture. The celebrations are expressed through dance, music, songs, storytelling and exhibitions.

Moulay Idriss II moussem is the week-long religious festival held in September, when there are processions to the mausoleum of Saint Moulay Idriss II, the founder of the Idriss dynasty.

In Meknes, August to September are time for the week long Festival of Volubilis with music and dance from international performers.

Most of the festivals here are as per the Islamic Calendar or depend on the harvest of crops in Fes.

In a nutshell, the city of Fes is the soul of the North African country of Morocco and is truly its cultural and spiritual centre. Royalty, various civilizations and adaptability to modern times, are all inherent in the mood of the city and the culture it reflects today.

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